WASHINGTON (March 3, 2000)—For the second time in less than a month, the House of Representatives has passed a limited product liability reform bill which the Clinton administration opposes.
The new bill, which passed by a veto-vulnerable vote of 221-193 Feb. 16, caps punitive damages at $250,000 or three times compensatory damages—whichever is less—in product liability lawsuits against companies with 25 or fewer employees.
It also exempts retailers from liability for products received from manufacturers and sold without alteration; lifts the $250,000 cap for willful intent to do harm, but puts the burden of proof on the plaintiff; and applies uniform federal liability standards to supersede stricter rules in 41 states.
In a formal statement, the White House denounced the legislation as "a sweeping tort reform measure that amends state liability rules as they apply to businesses both large and small." The bill´s future in the Senate is uncertain.